Religious Literature: Comprises epic, poetic and dramatic texts of religious content with an instructive and edifying function. The authors were secular priests and monks as well as laymen. It was mostly written in Latin; first vernacular examples of the German-speaking world date back to the 9th century (old-German spells and blessings). Translations of prayers, such as the Creed and the Lord´s Prayer, and Otfrid´s "Evangelienharmonie" manuscript (Handschrift V, Austrian National Library, Vienna) originated during the Old High German period; from the 2nd half of the 11th century the German literary tradition was revived with the Physiologus (1070) and Bible and salvation poetry ( Altdeutsche Genesis, 1060; Exodus, 1120; Frau Ava's "Leben Jesu"). Further written records are elegies, descriptions of life after death and repentance poems ( Heinrich von Melk, "Von des todes gehugede", around 1155) as well as songs and poems in praise of the Virgin Mary (Melker Marienlied, around 1150, Priester Wernhers "Marienleben"). During the high Middle Ages religious literature was largely replaced by secular courtly literature, as a consequence of the emancipation of the knighthood. Bible epics comprise the works "Kindheit Jesu" (after 1200) by Konrad von Fussesbrunnen, "Gotes zukunft" by Heinrich von Neustadt and "Christi hort" by Gundacker von Judenburg. There also exists a large compilation of Legends. The close relation between religious and historical literature becomes apparent in the world Chronicles (Rudolf von Ems, Jans Enikel, Ottokar aus der Gaal). In the course of the late Middle Ages Religious Drama developed along with Sermons and edifying and instructive poems (Hugo von Montfort, Hans Vintler, Hermann von Salzburg, et al.). The concept of medieval religious songs was continued in Catholic and Protestant hymns sung by the congregations in church. Religious literature with all its genres has always played an important role in the literature of Austria.
Literature#J. Janota, Studien zu Funktion und Typus des deutschen geistlichen Liedes im Mittelalter, 1968; G. Meissburger, Grundlagen zum Verstaendnis der deutschen Moenchsdichtung im 11. und 12. Jahrhundert, 1970; H. Rupp, Die deutschen religioesen Dichtungen des 11. und 12 Jahrhunderts, 21971.